One of Harrison’s biggest heroes turns fourteen years old today: his big sister Blakely. Or, as he affectionally calls her, Boo Boo.
During this long and difficult journey no one has been more of a hero to Harrison than Lachlan and Blakely. They are a constant source of encouragement for him. He looks up to them, admires them, and strives to be like them. And I am glad. They are both worthy of emulating.
As Blakely turns fourteen, I am struck at how quickly she has grown up. It seems like only yesterday she was playing dress-up, learning to ride a bike, and hoping to start school. Now she’s ready to start drivers ed. Where has the time gone?!
But this past year has meant more growth for her as a godly young woman than I ever imagined. She’s been through a lot. While no one suffers quite like the child with cancer, siblings are a close second. She has had to see her brother in severe pain, sick beyond imagination, suffering severely.
She and Lachlan were in the car as we raced to the hospital following his near-fatal stroke. They tried to keep busy in the waiting room at the ER while mom and dad tried to keep it together in the back. After the doctor explained that Harrison had little chance of surviving, they sat in the family room while we wept for our little boy together. She prayed with us as we begged God to allow Harrison to live. She gave thanks when that prayer was answered.
When her dad lost it one night on the couch, she and Lachlan comforted a despondent father. No fourteen year old girl should have to be that grown up.
For a fourteen year old girl she has endured a lot. Harrison was diagnosed at the end of the semester last December. Blakely was finishing projects, doing homework, preparing for the end of the semester. How she got anything done while Ginger and I were at the hospital coming to grips with our new devastation, I’ll never know. She’s been tested to be a bone marrow donor. She’s waited patiently while Harrison gets chemo. She’s spent days, nights, and weekends in the hospital. She’s held the bucket while Harrison got sick, and cleaned up messes when no bucket was around.
She’s suffered right alongside her little brother.
For a fourteen year old girl she has accomplished a lot. Despite the interruption that childhood cancer has been, she has managed to make straight As. She played softball for the school, including ending the year on varsity as an eighth grader. She was selected for a school leadership team position. She’s thrown herself into the midst of the childhood cancer community for kids other than Harrison. When a sweet little girl, three weeks after her own fourteen birthday, lost her battle with leukemia, Blakely made the two hour trip to the funeral with Ginger. She simply would not miss it. A few weeks ago she accompanied Ginger to meet this girl’s mother and other moms and daughters from the UNC cancer clinic. She visited with two little girls fighting cancer as we speak. She has come to love these kids.
The most remarkable moment happened late one afternoon in the clinic. We and one other family were the only ones who remained, waiting on transfusions or chemo administration, or both. Blakely noticed the little girl seemed down. Of course, no one looks happy in a pediatric cancer clinic. So Blakely and Harrison took it on themselves to invite this little girl to play Rock Band. We all had a blast! Harrison and Meghan have now become dear friends.
Blakely has asked to shadow the oncologists at the hospital next summer. She wants to give. She wants to be a blessing. She wants to shine the Light of Christ in this dark, dark place. She and her older brother have cared for Harrison with the deepest compassion. And done so without ever once complaining. And they have turned their own suffering into an avenue to minister to others.
Blakely has become the godly young woman Ginger and I have prayed she would become. We could not be any prouder. She may have been around for only fourteen years, but she’s already lived more than many of us.
Happy birthday, Blakely. I pray you know the favor of God on this, and every other day you live.